Strengthening opportunities for better lives | ShareNet & You

Lorraine Doleman grew up believing in the power of helping others. She and her father volunteered at a food bank in San Jose, California. She remembers stuffing envelopes for them and packing food boxes. She also remembers buying hot cocoa for a homeless woman who was not allowed to enter a nearby fast-food restaurant.

When Doleman found herself with two nephews and two grandchildren added to her household temporarily, she needed ShareNet’s support.

She wrote us a letter: “I would like to thank all of you at ShareNet. You are truly a huge blessing to this community. I’m currently finishing a CNA course and taking care of my children, two of my nephews, and two of my grandchildren. You’ve even helped me on days when the food bank was closed, and my cupboards and freezer were bare. I’m graduating tomorrow and your wonderful, genuine employees and volunteers show me true love and compassion. I will make sure to pay it forward always.”

When talking with our onsite staff about why they volunteer and why they care about food banks, you find that many of them had an experience with childhood poverty or hunger, or had an experience like Lorraine’s where they became sensitized to people in need. Though we have volunteers from all walks of life, the one element that unifies them is believing those struggling shouldn’t be written off or considered down and out for good, and that these challenges don’t have to be permanent.

Everyone who’s lived long enough knows life is one of cycles, both good and bad, and that some folks don’t have or never had the resources to support themselves through a low period like a job loss, medical crisis, or a sudden increase in household members.

Doleman’s is one among thousands of stories of struggle and hope in our community that ShareNet intersects with annually. She’s thanking us, but she’s really thanking the community support for ShareNet too. Through your generosity, ShareNet serves the struggles of local folks trying to make better lives; after all everybody wants one.

Everyone’s vision of a better life is different, but for some it’s as basic as being able to put food on the table. ShareNet’s mission is to strengthen opportunities for better lives. How? By helping locals navigate temporary crises. By reducing adverse childhood experiences shown to lead to long-term poverty; we do this through our sponsorship of school programs, including food backpacks, family engagement nights, and continuing education for parents.

Over time, ShareNet has become so much more than a food bank, building on our core service to serve the community more deeply. We provide carefully screened financial assistance for our neighbors in crisis, matching funds where they can do the most good, keeping families fed, warm, and housed where possible. We host and fund seasonal events such as Back to School Supplies and Thanksgiving Giveaway.

We provide transportation, goods, and shower vouchers for those in crisis, for those not currently housed, and for those newly housed. In 2016, we began sponsorship of visits from the Medical Teams International dental vans to Kingston.

ShareNet has always done a lot with a little. Few agencies of ShareNet’s modest size and budget are able to sponsor this much impact in the community. We do it with the unified heart of many great volunteers and financial support from the community. We’re honored to be the vehicle and stewards for this local community support that funds change and hope right here in our own backyards.

— Mark Ince is executive director of ShareNet Food Bank and Thrift Store. To be part of the local safety net and contibute to ShareNet’s NeighborAid campaign, call 360-297-2266 or email